Job 38

1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
2 "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone
7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?—
9 when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors,
11 and said, "Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped'?
12 "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal, and it is dyed like a garment.
15 Light is withheld from the wicked, and their uplifted arm is broken.
16 "Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
19 "Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21 Surely you know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!
22 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?
24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
25 "Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt,
26 to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert, which is empty of human life,
27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass?
28 "Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven?
30 The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
31 "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?
32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?
34 "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you?
35 Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, "Here we are'?
36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind?
37 Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38 when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together?
39 "Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert?
41 Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?

Job 38 Commentary

Chapter 38

God calls upon Job to answer. (1-3) God questions Job. (4-11) Concerning the light and darkness. (12-24) Concerning other mighty works. (25-41)

Verses 1-3 Job had silenced, but had not convinced his friends. Elihu had silenced Job, but had not brought him to admit his guilt before God. It pleased the Lord to interpose. The Lord, in this discourse, humbles Job, and brings him to repent of his passionate expressions concerning God's providential dealings with him; and this he does, by calling upon Job to compare God's being from everlasting to everlasting, with his own time; God's knowledge of all things, with his own ignorance; and God's almighty power, with his own weakness. Our darkening the counsels of God's wisdom with our folly, is a great provocation to God. Humble faith and sincere obedience see farthest and best into the will of the Lord.

Verses 4-11 For the humbling of Job, God here shows him his ignorance, even concerning the earth and the sea. As we cannot find fault with God's work, so we need not fear concerning it. The works of his providence, as well as the work of creation, never can be broken; and the work of redemption is no less firm, of which Christ himself is both the Foundation and the Corner-stone. The church stands as firm as the earth.

Verses 12-24 The Lord questions Job, to convince him of his ignorance, and shame him for his folly in prescribing to God. If we thus try ourselves, we shall soon be brought to own that what we know is nothing in comparison with what we know not. By the tender mercy of our God, the Day-spring from on high has visited us, to give light to those that sit in darkness, whose hearts are ( 2 Corinthians. 4:6 ) government of the world is said to be in the sea; this means, that it is hid from us. Let us make sure that the gates of heaven shall be opened to us on the other side of death, and then we need not fear the opening of the gates of death. It is presumptuous for us, who perceive not the breadth of the earth, to dive into the depth of God's counsels. We should neither in the brightest noon count upon perpetual day, nor in the darkest midnight despair of the return of the morning; and this applies to our inward as well as to our outward condition. What folly it is to strive against God! How much is it our interest to seek peace with him, and to keep in his love!

Verses 25-41 Hitherto God had put questions to Job to show him his ignorance; now God shows his weakness. As it is but little that he knows, he ought not to arraign the Divine counsels; it is but little he can do, therefore he ought not to oppose the ways of Providence. See the all-sufficiency of the Divine Providence; it has wherewithal to satisfy the desire of every living thing. And he that takes care of the young ravens, certainly will not be wanting to his people. This being but one instance of the Divine compassion out of many, gives us occasion to think how much good our God does, every day, beyond what we are aware of. Every view we take of his infinite perfections, should remind us of his right to our love, the evil of sinning against him, and our need of his mercy and salvation.

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Heb [sons of God]
  • [b]. Cn: Heb [and they stand forth]
  • [c]. Meaning of Heb uncertain
  • [d]. Meaning of Heb uncertain

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO JOB 38

In this chapter the Lord takes up the controversy with Job; calls upon him to prepare to engage with him in it, and demands an answer to posing questions he puts to him, concerning the earth and the fabric of it, Job 38:1-7; concerning the sea, compared to an infant in embryo, at its birth, in its swaddling bands and cradle, Job 38:8-11; concerning the morning light, its spread and influence, Job 38:12-15; concerning the springs of the sea, the dark parts of the earth, the place both of light and darkness, Job 38:16-21; concerning the various meteors, snow, hail, rain, thunder, lightning, and the influences of the stars, Job 38:22-38; and concerning provision for lions and ravens, Job 38:40,41.

Job 38 Commentaries

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.